Job Search Guide for Pre-Law Students and Recent Grads

How do I find a job for my gap year(s)? This is a very common question. It has become the norm to work 1-3 years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree before attending law school, which means that most pre-law students will be job searching for a professional position during your gap year(s). This guide contains suggestions, tips, and ideas for pre-law students who are searching for gap year opportunities. 

NOTE: We have added more listings to our Jobs for December Grads over on Compass. (Need to add yourself to our Compass page? Scroll down and follow the simple instructions here.)

First: Is your resume ready? Review these resume tips from our earlier post.

Schedule time over a few months for your job search. Sit down and dedicate time in your GCal, iCal, or paper planner every week for job searching.  Job searching isn’t done in one afternoon…we suggest setting aside at least 2-3 hours each week to apply for jobs. (For example, every Sunday afternoon, or an hour a few days a week).

Cast a wide net. Apply to lots of jobs–many people will apply to 20+ jobs, especially as a new college graduate. THAT’S NORMAL. If you are applying to law-related jobs (which tend to be competitive) then you should expect to apply to even more.

Make sure you are connected to our Facebook group. We will continue to post internships and jobs as they become available. Join us here.

Identify attorneys and legal service providers in your area. Google county bar associations. For example: Cook County Bar Association or Orange County Bar Association.

    • Bar Association websites frequently have directories of attorneys, which can help you identify contacts to inquire about job opportunities, and you can then find attorney websites and monitor them for job listings.
    • Are you in Illinois? Use the Illinois Lawyer Finder to find any lawyer in any county or practice area in the state.
    • Live in another state? Whatever state you live in, you can use Martindale Hubbell to find lawyers by practice area, location, or law school affiliation. Google _____ State Bar Association to find statewide attorney directories too.
    • Many bar associations also post support staff job opportunities, so bookmark those sites and check back often.

Use effective search terms. Obviously any jobs labeled “lawyer” or “associate” or “partner” or the like are going to require a law degree. What are some legal jobs for which people with bachelor’s degrees are eligible?

    • Project Assistant
    • Case Assistant
    • Legal Assistant
    • Paralegal (as long as a paralegal certificate isn’t required)
    • Office Assistant
    • Office Support
    • Billing Support/Assistant

Apply if you meet 60% or more of the job criteria. Most applicants will not meet 100% of the job criteria, and that’s okay. Unless it says “required” you should assume it’s negotiable. Your options will be very limited if you only apply to jobs for which you meet every single preferred criteria.

Set up a professional non-University email account. Make it something simple and non-controversial…not hottiebae23 or cubsrule45. And make sure it isn’t political or religious!

Create–or update–your LinkedIn account. It’s an easy way to network, job search, and connect with people who are hiring (or people who know others who are hiring.) The Career Center offers LinkedIn reviews to help you create or improve your profile.

Clean up your social media. Many employers (and law schools too) will check your online presence, so comb through your Facebook/Insta/Twitter feeds. Check the privacy settings and remove anything that you wouldn’t want an employer or law school dean to see.

Be organized. How?

    • Bookmark sites and check them regularly. (More about job sites below).
    • Subscribe to weekly (or even daily) digests of job listings based on criteria (like location) that you set.
    • Create a spreadsheet that includes the job, website, closing date, when you applied, and contact information.
    • Download job descriptionsdon’t just save the links. Most job descriptions will be removed from websites after the application deadline. You’ll want to refer to the description to prepare for an interview or to follow up, so make sure you download or cut and paste a copy of it for your records.

Network. Now is the time to let it be known that you are job searching. Ask anyone you know if they know of any job opportunities–neighbors, cousins, classmates, parents, etc. Lots of hiring is done by word of mouth and personal recommendations.

Use the University’s resources. In addition to the Career Center (which you should definitely be utilizing), make the most of your department or college’s job search resources, such as:

    • Are you on Handshake? You should be. Do you actually check it? Did you know that you can set it to email you with opportunities? Employers are constantly coming to campus and holding info sessions, networking receptions, and interviews right here.
    • Attend the college/campus career fairs. You can find a list of them in Handshake. More fairs will be happening in the spring semester. (Click on Events and then Find Career Fairs).
    • Are you using your department’s career services, mentoring, or alumni connections? Many departments/majors bring in alums, offer mentors, or have lists of alumni available to you.
    • The Humanities Professional Resource Center is another great career resource.
    • The Life + Career Design Lab also offers career prep resources.

Which job search sites are helpful?

We post jobs and internships over on our Facebook page

Use Handshake!

Many law firms will post positions on Indeed or on Monster–Guides and helpful insight for finding and applying to entry level federal government jobs.

USAJOBS lists all federal government jobs and internships–use the helpful icons to find entry level or student opportunities.

Idealist–for public interest/nonprofit sector jobs

LinkedIn also has job listings